The Importance of Protecting Salmon

I am not a fish specialist, scientist, or Streamkeeper; I am passionate about everything related to nature and biodiversity.

At some point in our lives, we have seen documentaries, read articles or magazines, or listened to a podcast about Salmon. Today, I will write about Salmon.

What is Salmon?

According to National Geographic, Salmons include seven species of Pacific salmon and one species of Atlantic salmon. They’re found in tributaries of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and most species are anadromous: They are born in streams and rivers, migrate out to the open sea, and then return to freshwater again to reproduce. 


How many types of Salmon do we have in the world?

There are seven species of Pacific salmon. Five are in North American waters: chinook, coho, chum, sockeye, and pink. Masu and amago Salmon occur only in Asia. There are one species of Atlantic salmon.

The Chinook/King salmon is the largest Salmon and gets up to 58 inches (1.5 meters) long and 126 pounds (57.2 kg). Pink Salmon are the smallest at up to 30 inches (0.8 meters) long and 12 pounds (5.4 kg), although they average 3 to 5 pounds (1.3-2.3 kg).

Note: Steelhead trout are often listed as an eighth Pacific salmon, but unlike other Pacific salmon, they can repeat spawning and do not die after spawning. It has been suggested that they be grouped with other fish as “Pacific Trout.” Source: U.S. Geological Survey

We all know that Salmon returns from the ocean to freshwater to spawn every season. Almost all of them die afterward due to fatigue because they don’t have as much energy after the journey to fresh water.

When this happens, they become prey for animals and add nutrients to the streams when they decompose.

Putah Creek / Image Wikipedia

How many times have we seen on TV bears eat them? That image stays in our minds all the time.

Climate change, pollution, and droughts affect all biodiversity, and Salmon is no exception; good Streamkeeper management and focus on natural capital is crucial to protect Salmon and their habitat.

What is a Streamkeeper?

Watershed Watch Salmon Society defines Streamkeeping as preserving and enhancing a creek, stream, or river, particularly for restoring and caring for Salmon and trout. The groups that call themselves Streamkeepers usually identify themselves with a particular waterway.

I recently read an interesting article entitled More than 500 salmon making way up Putah Creek.

I want to share some highlights from this article:

  • More than 500 fish are in the creek system.
  • The drought may have helped bring the fish back to Putah Creek.
  • Officials also put in about 80 tons of gravel to build and improve spawning areas.
  • The researchers hope they can show that the Salmon that have returned also started their lives in the creek, meaning Putah Creek would have its own race of Salmon.

Max Stevenson is the Streamkeeper for the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee and the Solano County Water Agency in California.

Putah Creek is a major stream in Northern California.

Vishal Mehta, a scientist from Stockholm Environment Institute, and I discussed in Water Stories Podcast with Max Stevenson about protecting our natural ecosystems, like the Chinook Salmon.

Some points from our conversation:

  • What is a Streamkeeper
  • Salmon lifecycle
  • Water infrastructure and Salmon
  • Land management
  • Stakeholders

Contact Max Stevenson on LinkedIn.

To listen to more episodes of Water Stories to learn more about topics related to water management, visit the following link.

About the author :

Juan Carlos Giraldo, Sustainability & Communication. Talks about ESG, Management, Climate Change, Sustainability, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Business.